Hurt by Olympic debacle, PHF chief selector Islahuddin resigns

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Lahore, Sep 6 (UNI) Former captain Islahuddin Siddiqui resigned as the Chief Selector of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) following its team's worst-ever showing at the Olympics in Beijing Games last month.

''I rang up Jamali Sahib in Islamabad and Asif Bajwa in Lahore who respect my decision to leave,'' said the former right-winger after tendering his resignation yesterday.

The former Olympian, however, said with co-selectors he picked the best combination for Olympics on merits and experience but unfortunately the team badly failed to deliver during the tournament and refused to take the responsibility for the debacle.

''Absolutely not. If you ask me the selection committee carried out its job very well.

''We picked out the best boys from those available. The manager and coaches too were all satisfied with the squad as it was a good team, a fine combination of juniors and senior players with experience and new outlook.

The three-time Olympic champion Pakistan finished eighth at the Beijing Games and could not even post wins against the teams ranked lower than it.

''I am resigning because as chairman of the selection committee I too happen to be part and parcel of the officials of the team that let the nation down at Beijing,'' said Islah who in 1978 captained the side that won the World Cup along with the Champions Trophy and the Asian Games.

Islah further added that the PHF should bring in new people to take on the responsibilities of coaching, managing and selection but denied to give any names who could succeed him.

He said the Pakistan team missed too many opportunities in the shape of five to six penalty corners which is not the selection committee's fault as the team management should be held responsible for it.

''Frankly, there is no apparent reason why they played so badly, especially when PHF President Zafararullah Jamali too offered the boys handsome incentives to boost their performance levels,'' said Islah.

The former player took charge as the team's chief coach and manager in February 2007 for a two-year stint that also included the Olympics assignment but he was asked to switch places with Khawaja Zakauddin as chief selector in January 2008 after a foot injury during the Champions Trophy camp in September 2007 which put him (Islah) out of action for several months.

''I was looking forward to a rebuilding process for the national team back then which I had already said would take us at least three to four years.

''But the Olympics was also just around the corner and we were in a rush to show results,'' said Islah.

About his future with the PHF, a slightly emotional Islah said, ''Right now I can only talk about resigning. But hockey is my life, my first love, my identity. I never cared for important posts as long as we make progress in the game.

''I wish the sport well and will always be available for my country and the betterment of national hockey,'' he added.

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